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Isotope values of the bioavailable strontium in inland southwestern Sweden-A baseline for mobility studies

Journal article
Authors Malou Blank
Karl-Göran Sjögren
C. Knipper
K. M. Frei
J. Stora
Published in Plos One
Volume 13
Issue 10
ISSN 1932-6203
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Historical Studies
Language en
Keywords funnel beaker culture, iron-age, origin assignment, sr-87/sr-86 ratio, human migration, bronze-age, island, archaeology, gotland, denmark, Science & Technology - Other Topics
Subject categories History and Archaeology


The inland area of southwestern Sweden is well known for its well-preserved archaeological animal and human remains dating back to the Mesolithic and Neolithic (10000-4000 and 4000-1700 BC). They allow application of multiple bioarchaeological methods, giving insights into various and complementary aspects of prehistoric human life, as well as economic and social structures. One important aspect concerns human mobility and its relation to social networks and to circulation of objects. Here, strontium isotope analysis plays a crucial role. The present study aims to construct a strontium isotope baseline of southwestern Sweden with considerably greater coverage and higher resolution than previously published data. As the region has been affected by glacial events, the relation between bedrock geology and isotope signals of the bioavailable strontium in such areas is given special attention. We determined strontium isotope ratios for 61 water and five archaeological animal samples, and combined the data with previous measurements of two water and 21 non-domestic faunal samples. The results reveal a complex pattern. Several areas with distinct baseline ranges can be distinguished, although with overlaps between some of them. Overall, the bioavailable strontium isotope signals mirror the basement geology of the region. The highest ratios occur in the geologically oldest eastern parts of the Precambrian terrain, while lower ratios are found in the western part, and the lowest ratios occur in the youngest Paleozoic areas. At the same time, there are minor deviations compared to the underlying bedrock, due to glacial transport, overlying sediments, and local intrusions of younger rocks. The background data set now available allows for more nuanced and detailed interpretations of human and animal mobility in the region, in particular by identification of subregions with differing strontium isotope ratios within the Precambrian province. Also, we can now identify long distance mobility with greater confidence. ERG F, 1987, NORDIC HYDROLOGY, V18, P33 ERG G, 1995, WATER AIR AND SOIL POLLUTIONBIOGEOMON, International Symposium on Ecosystem

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